VeeSe's 55G Newbalicious Water Box (NEW FTS 8/16/12! 56K warning))
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:05 AM   #1
VeeSe
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VeeSe's 55G Newbalicious Water Box (NEW FTS 8/16/12! 56K warning))


Foreword
Before I start, Iíd like to say that I plan to keep this thread not just with pictures and updates about my tank, but with posts about my general learnings/views towards aquariums and planted tanks. Iím quite new at this, having just filled my first aquarium (the one that this journal is about) with water on April 2, 2011. Bear with me as I learn along the way. Feel free to skip to the pics if that's what you're interested in.

Beginnings
I thought Iíd begin with a brief (or not brief, depending on your viewpoint) introduction of how I got into this mess in the first place. Feel free to skip over this part if it's too long. I recently quit playing online poker just before operations at Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars got suspended in the USA (and I still have a few thousand dollars that I canít cash out at Full Tilt thanks to their mess of a company). Although disappointed that I would no longer have a hobby that could bring in significant money, I thought that Iíd change gears and get a dog. As it turns out, I tested a dog out by having it for one weekend, and it was just way too much work. Iím a person who sleeps in, so getting up in the wee hours of the morning to walk the dog, having the smell of dogs in the apartment/house, and having to bathe it AND groom it regularly seemed like a little much, although I must say that dogs are awesome and probably the best pets you could have (manís best friend indeed). I ended up with two cats who take relatively little work (other than training them to use human toilets). Iíve had cats growing up in my family and so I had experience this time, which always helps a ton.

One evening, I was just surfing around the interwebs and came across some aquarium stuff (who knows how I ended up there). Long story short, I got into reading some and looking at pictures of awesome reef tanks (non-hobbyists are always so amazed by those at the start, and I must admit they still look awesome to me today, even though I now know what a pain it must be to both shell out cash for one and maintain one). Pretty soon, I was looking at pics of fish and reading all about them constantly and thinking about if I should get one. This was probably in October 2010.

Flash forward to late March, 2011. I had just moved into my new townhouse and now had space for a tank. My attitude at this point was that I just wanted to try this out and if after a year it was too much and I didnít like it, I would just get rid of the tank on craigslist or some other way and sell off everything and get out. So I got a 55G aquarium startup kit from Petco with the wooden stand to boot (looking back, I would never do that again, since I used almost nothing out of that startup kit in my final setup except for the actual tank itself and the heater). And thus my first aquarium had begun.

Attitude Change
Over the few months that Iíve been at this hobby, I think my plans for my tank have pretty much been as ďall over the placeĒ as you can get. See, I started out with an interest in fish, but now I couldnít imagine having a non-planted freshwater tank unless it was an African cichlid tank like a Mbuna or a Malawi tank with a nice hardscape and maybe some anubias or whatever they didnít eat. Initially, I just wanted a ďtank with plantsĒ, not a planted tank. As I looked at more and more pictures of planted tanks, I realized that what I had absolutely sucked to look at (to put it bluntly) compared to what the absolutely stunning planted tanks looked like (youtube videos of awesome tanks really pushed me towards planting heavily). So slowly I transitioned to plans for a low tech planted tank.

However, as it turns out, I already had a T5HO light fixture (the ZooMed AquaSun), and I found out that this lighting was probably a lot for no CO2 injection (now I know that this fixture apparently has surprisingly low PAR reading at the substrate due to a combination of poor reflectors and I donít know what based on a test done by a member here; I forget his name). So I slowly started dosing Excel, then got into DIY CO2, and eventually bought a pressurized setup from btimmer92. Now Iím getting into running pressurized with EI dosing, and I hope Iíll see some nice growth. Iíve been all over the place and somehow ended up at high tech with the recommendations of a lot of members here on the forum. I must say that itís a ton more work than I initially imagined, so weíll see how I feel about it once Iíve done it for multiple months. I donít know what to think of it yet.

Current Tank Specs
Tank size: 55G standard long (48Ē x 12Ē x 20Ē ŗ believe that these tanks are only 52.5G)
Lighting: AquaticLife Dual T5HO fixture ŗ only running one bulb: ZooMed UltraSun 6700K
Substrate: Mix of coase aquarium gravel, Seachem Flourite, and CaribSea Eco-Complete
Fertilization: EI slightly modified as I see fit
CO2: Dual Stage regulator pressurized setup at ~3bps, atomic inline diffuser
Filtration: Eheim Classic 2217, intake: Tom Aquatics Surface Skimmer
Heater: AGA standard 200W glass heater

Current Fauna
11 Harlequin Rasboras (T. heteromorpha)

Current Flora
Blyxa japonica
Rotala rotundifolia
Heteranthera zosterifolia
Ludwigia repens
Cryptocoryne wendtii ĎRedí
Hemianthus micranthemoides
Helianthum tenellum
Nymphaea zenkeri Ďgreení
Cabomba caroliniana
Cryptocoryne wendtii Ďgreení
Sagittaria subulata Ďdwarfí
Anubias barteri Ďnanaí
Echinodorus argentinensis

Picture Timeline
April 3, 2011: First full tank shot!



April 3, 2011: Shimming it up



April 24, 2011: Fish added April 21. My cat Gravy enjoys the tank too.



May 5, 2011: Full tank shot --> lots of diatoms



May 15, 2011: Anacharis going out of control (eventually thrown out)



May 29, 2011: Full tank shot after a massive replanting and new plants. Removed that huge Mopani driftwood piece that was really stinking it up and taking up too much planting space.


July 9, 2011: Full Tank shot. Got lazy and didn't take pics for more than a month while I was getting all this stuff set up.


Picture of my stand setup and equipment underneath the tank:




Surface skimmer works well except for stargrass getting stuck to the bottom intake =( Powerhead is turned off right now because I'm not sure I need the additional flow and it was blowing my background plants all over the place. I can't find a good place to put it and augment the flow too without blowing my plants all over.


I haven't seen the explosion of growth after I switched to pressurized CO2 that I was expecting. In fact, the only exploding growth I found after going pressurized was algae appearing all over the place. Also, my C. wendtii 'Red' started melting all over the place once I started pressurized CO2.

Special Thanks
btimmer92 (for getting me going in pressurized CO2)
plantbrain (for all of his informative and lengthy posts about EI that have given me a better understanding and his awesome tank pics)
Catsma_97504 (at fishlore.com for helpful tips in getting me started)
Anyone else that I've forgotten who I've had conversations with here and there and helped me out

Any comments, suggestions, critiques, subscriptions, and general merriment or dissent are welcome!

Last edited by VeeSe; 08-17-2012 at 04:25 AM.. Reason: change title date
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:26 AM   #2
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That loosk like it has progressed nicely and I look forward to seeing more update shots. Nice work!
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:57 AM   #3
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This is great, seeing your progress. I think it looks much better without the second piece of driftwood, and you answered a question I had earlier about how the footed light fixtures sit on the tank. The last pic you posted was perfect for me! lol I noticed in the first pic, you are running a HOB filter - does it work ok with the footed lights? A canister filter is out of the question for me, for a while yet.

Love the dark gravel...
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Old 07-11-2011, 02:38 AM   #4
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It's looking good so far, and I liked the backstory on how you got to this point too. I was in a similar spot a year and a half ago, I had some tanks as a kid/teenager but nothing fancy...some plastic plants, basic fish, and one fateful attempt at a cichlid tank (it was nice while it lasted, but I learned the hard way that they quickly ran out of space as they grew.) I had been kicking around the idea of a new tank for a while, and finally got a little basic nano tank on a whim. I later decided that I wanted to try real plants, still wasn't happy with my results in the nano, found this site, and then made the jump to a 55g also, better equipment, and better plants. As with all of my other hobbies, it has been a somewhat expensive, slippery slope, but having an awesome display tank that all my visitors ooh and ahh over is completely worth it
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:17 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone! I wonder if I can add the 2nd T5HO bulb to this setup without getting into too much trouble. I'm hoping to bring out some pink/red shades in the R. rotundifolia and L. repens as well as get L. aromatica going eventually.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:30 AM   #6
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I really like this tank. Maybe try turning on the second light for a few hours a day at first and see how it goes? Love the picture with the cat.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:59 AM   #7
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Thanks for the detailed backstory (didn't skip and read through everything ^^) and sharing your photos! Looking good and look forward to future developments!

The cat photo was funny; apparently he was more interested in the fishes (food!) than the tank itself~
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:39 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the comments!

Algae Creeping In
I have recently run into a bit of an algae problem. After starting EI and pressurized, I've seen a development of GDA and also staghorn, thread, and hair algae. GDA grows on the glass but the staghorn, thread, and hair algae are really thriving on my anubias and crypt wendtiis. They are the slower growing plants so this makes sense, but it sucks that I still have this algae problem. I realized that this could be because of a dirty tank and filter (hadn't cleaned it in 3 months), so I rinsed out all the media in dechlorinated tap water and did a huge vacuum of the entire tank substrate (for the carpeted part, I just poked my vacuum right into the substrate through the plants). It looks a lot cleaner now and the filter is hopefully cleaner too, meaning that I'll hopefully go back to a nice, algae-free tank. Not sure what I should do to get rid of the existing algae (spot treat with Excel, 30 min filter off, bleach dip the Anubias, or what), but maybe some persistent leaf disturbance with my hand/fingers and a cleaner tank will do the trick.

I'll have new pics up for you guys soon, probably this week or during the weekend.
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Old 08-01-2011, 02:29 AM   #9
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Ah, the algae bloom is finally here! Things should establish themselves in a few more weeks and generally the algae just goes away. If not, that's when you should address the issue.

Looking forward to more pictures.
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Old 08-01-2011, 03:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
Ah, the algae bloom is finally here! Things should establish themselves in a few more weeks and generally the algae just goes away. If not, that's when you should address the issue.

Looking forward to more pictures.
Yeah a whole bunch of algae springing up, but really it's not gaining that much momentum even as I leave everything alone. I did have to clip off a ton of crypt wendtii leaves though.

No pics this weekend as I initially stated because I didn't have time to wipe off some algae on my front glass, but they will be coming in the next few days whenever I have some time!
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:19 PM   #11
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Alright folks (aka sewingalot):

Here are updated pics. Get ready for the ugly:

Full Tank Shot:


Left Side Closeup:


Right Side Closeup:


Algae covering Anubias:


R. rotundifolia struggling:


Chain Sword browning at tips:


Blyxa japonica:


Comments
So there has been a struggle with the algae outbreak. There's BBA, staghorn, hair/thread, GSA, GDA, and diatoms everywhere. Pics were taken today on the first day when I added a 5000K T5HO bulb to make two bulbs total, but I'll take it off if the algae goes out of control. The reason that I added it is because I don't know what's causing my chain sword and R. rotundifolia to struggle so much. Growth is super slow on the R. rotundifolia and the new growth is really really small. I'm not sure if it's a lack of CO2 or what because I'm getting slightly more than a 1 point drop in pH every day. On the other hand, the chain sword is growing fast but the tips of the tall leaves are browning and not doing well. I'm not sure what that could be, but if it's light, I hope adding a light will fix it.

Some of you will say, "What? You had one T5HO bulb on there already and you just added another?!" and you may be right. However, with my glass versa tops, the black bar hinging the two pieces of glass was pretty much blocking a lot of light and the tank seemed shady at some areas. I'm probably wrong though and I'll be forced to take off the 2nd light when the algae explodes I'm sure. For now though, it's on there.

Any tips to help me out would be appreciated! By the way, you'll see a stem of half dead L. aromatica in the back left. It was a RAOK that I attempted to get to me in the 100+ degree heat that failed. We'll see if the last few stem stubs come around.

That is all! Comments appreciated.


-VeeSe
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:29 PM   #12
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OMG! Those kitties are so cute!
I'm too new to having planted tanks to be of any help, but I wanted to say I really hear you on the black plastic hinge on the versa tops. Why haven't they figured out clear plastic would be so much better? I have the same problem as you with it blocking light. And because of my two cats, an open top with a suspended light isn't an option...
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Old 08-07-2011, 12:11 AM   #13
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OIn my tops i remove teh hinge from them as they can create quite the shadow. Also I find it is easier to do maintence as I can jsut pick up and remove a section as I see fit.

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Old 08-07-2011, 12:24 AM   #14
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OIn my tops i remove teh hinge from them as they can create quite the shadow. Also I find it is easier to do maintence as I can jsut pick up and remove a section as I see fit.

Craig
That's an interesting idea.
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Old 08-07-2011, 12:26 AM   #15
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That's an interesting idea.
I also have my glass tops reversed to the larger section has the handle and the smaller section stays at the rear of the tank. Makes it really easy to get in the tank and work.

Craig
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